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It has been almost 20 years since it has been documented that children in our schools are in grave danger of being sexually abused by teachers. In 2004, Charol Shakeshaft completed a U.S. Department of Education sponsored study on Educator Sexual Misconduct. The seminal findings showed that 9.6 percent of children in our schools, public and private, are victims of educator sexual misconduct sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.
Almost nothing has been done about this.
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS), at least, has begun to make some steps toward addressing the imminent threat to children by expanding the CPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) and greatly increasing the capability to investigate abuse allegations. They have had some success.
According to their recently released report, from late 2018 until the end of 2022 the OIG opened a little over 1,700 cases and closed almost 1, 400, leaving 300 plus cases still open. With 30 investigators on their staff, that’s not bad.
What is not so good is only 16 criminal charges wound up being filed against the accused and not all of them were convicted. It is not clear how many were convicted or what sentences they received. Moreover, we don’t even know who they were. In the CPS OIG report they are not named. Incredible.
We also don’t know how many of the accused were fired, lost their license, or merely received some kind of internal discipline. One teacher shared “images from a pornographic website while sharing his screen with students,” supposedly inadvertently. The Board gave him a “Level Three Performance Improvement Plan,” whatever that is. It’s essentially nothing. Why?
It appears that most of the accused are still working for CPS, but who knows?
Reading between the lines of the OIG report, it appears that the CPS administration and the Board have to dance delicately through the contractual minefield set up by the teachers unions to protect all teachers regardless of what they might have done. Why would there be any question about firing a teacher who shows pornography to children, whether it was on purpose or accidentally? That teacher should be gone and any union that stands behind him or her discredits itself.
Historically and even to this day, very little attention has been focused on the predators in our schools. In 2021, Illinois State Representative Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) introduced House Bill 1975, supposedly to address sexual abuse in the schools. That bill requires educating teachers about educator sexual abuse and how to recognize the signs of “grooming.” It is a common practice of child sexual predators to “groom,” or seduce, children over a long period of time. Essentially, the predator will develop an increasingly intimate relationship with the child, introduce secrecy at some point, and eventually sexualize the relationship.
Mussman named the act “Faith’s Law,” after Faith Colson, a former Schaumburg High School Student who had been groomed and sexually exploited by one of her teachers starting in 2001. Based on Dr. Shakeshaft’s study we know that Faith was only one of an estimated 16,000 students in Illinois who were abused by an educator that year.
But what does this bill do to prevent what happened to Faith and 16,000 other Illinois children in 2001? Not much, if anything. The bill requires that teachers be trained to recognize grooming behavior, schools to set up policies to establish better boundaries between teachers and students, and to create a list of sexual abuse response and prevention resources to be made available to the public. The bill also expands grooming beyond electronic activity to include in person and third-party conduct.
This proposal proves that our legislators, including Mussman, simply do not take the protection of childhood innocence seriously, or are too uninformed themselves to fashion a solution.
How could anyone graduate with a childhood education degree and not know what grooming is? There are mountains of published papers on grooming. Everyone even remotely connected to issues of child protection knows that grooming behaviors should be viewed as a giant red flag. Expanding the grooming law does little since you must prove intent to abuse to prosecute. That’s almost impossible until after the abuse occurs.
Libraries already are filled with sexual abuse prevention resources, most of which nobody reads. Just ask your librarian. As for creating policies that establish appropriate boundaries between teacher and student? If this hasn’t already been done in every school the people in charge should be prosecuted for malfeasance.
This law is little more than virtue signaling.
One reason the problem is so large is due the teachers’ unions. They actively protect teachers who are predators. Examples are everywhere of the unions shielding teachers who regularly engage in grooming behaviors. The unions will not let them be fired. Teachers have been known to assign obscene materials to children to read as part of a class assignment and nothing happens to the teacher. Even when caught sexually abusing children the unions often go to bat for them.
Another problem is the obscenity exemption for teachers in Illinois. This allows librarians to provide, and teachers to recommend, highly sexualized and often deranged and perverted books for children to read or study. Providing this kind of material to children is a typical grooming behavior of predators. Such materials are used to begin to sexualize the relationship and to arouse the child. It’s completely legal in Illinois schools.
Senate Bill 818, which was voted for by Mussman and 59 fellow Illinois House Democrats (all Republicans voted against it), makes the grooming problem even worse. It mandates that all schools implement sex education programs – Kindergarten to 12th Grade – which are to be based on the “National Sex Education Standards,” although there is a provision that allows each district to opt out of the standards if they want.
Such a farce. These “standards” were developed by an ad hoc group of sexual progressives. In addition to Planned Parenthood, SIECUS, Answer, and Advocates for Youth, a host of other left leaning sexual activists developed the document.
Those who created the standards believe that every person has a right to experience sexual pleasure from birth to death, that children have a right to experience sexual pleasure whenever and with whomever they want, that purity is a false value, and that children should be encouraged to experiment sexually with same and opposite sex relationships. The standards teach that all sexual activity is good as long as there is mutual consent, disregarding that children cannot legally give consent.
Only a handful of school districts in Illinois opted into the standards. In Chicago they were using the perverse standards even before the law was passed.
The National Sex Education Standards do not call for a class in comprehensive sex ed. No. The standards require that sex ed be infused in every class, that it be part of every subject wherever possible.
These are not standards. This law destroys every remaining sexual standard established over the last two millennia. And it turns every teacher into an accomplice for every predator in our schools. It is institutionalized grooming on a mass scale and neutralizes any possible good, however little, Faith’s Law might have achieved.